Yes, I've clearly gone off the deep end with my new couponing hobby. Look, I even made a shiny new graphic! Fancy, right? I KNOW.
In any case, I've learned entirely too many things throughout the past couple months to just keep to myself. As I've gone along, I have been so surprised by how little effort is required in order to save a good amount of money. I'm hoping to share at least a few tips (and successes) every now and then, so that hopefully I can encourage someone else with my slightly obsessive thriftiness.
(Granted, I like to think of these qualities as endearing as opposed to obsessive, but who really knows?)
Here are a few successes I've had:
1. I have saved at least 40-50% on each weekly shopping trip to Vons since I've started using coupons. This week alone I saved $48 on my weekly haul, paying only $58 out of pocket. I've become an avid user of their online "just 4 U" program, which you can find on their website. I can't recommend it enough. It loads discounts and coupons directly to your club card. Some weeks I hardly end up using many paper coupons, only sticking to their weekly sales combined with their online coupons and customized discounts. I've also been trying my best to meal plan based on what is on sale, which has been working out quite nicely. (That's not to say I'm a successful meal planner, but I've been trying to be a bit more organized!)
2. This month, our church is focusing on health/personal products for donations, and I've been using this as a challenge (and opportunity) to hone my couponing skills. I want to see how many items I'll be able to donate while spending only $25. Instead of giving money, I can give more by spending a bit of extra time organizing coupons and researching sales. So far this month, I have spent only $5 total and have a bag filled with the following products:
- 4 Lady Speed Stick deodorants
- 1 Mitchum deodorant
- 2 tubes of Colgate toothpaste
- 4 bottles of Pantene shampoos
- 1 bottle of Clear shampoo
3. For my best CVS purchase to date, I was able to get 4 bottles of Pantene shampoo, a case of 24 bottles of water (to have on hand in case of emergencies; we never typically buy bottled water), and 3 boxes of Special K red berries cereal—all for only .94 total, if I include the $3 in Extra Bucks I received back on my receipt. CVS is an amazing place to start couponing, since you are able to combine so many different things to maximize savings: paper coupons, %-off deals you receive via email ALL THE TIME, $5 off $15 purchase coupons (I receive a variety of these via email), $ off when you spend a certain amount on a certain item (for example, I used a $2 any $10 shampoo purchase for the above purchase), Extra Bucks (which you receive back on certain purchases), and CVS coupons that print at their coupon machine each week.
Here are a few things I've learned:
1. It's easy to want to go crazy at every single store you live within 5 miles of, especially when you start following blogs that feature weekly deals. However, I've decided that it's easiest to just stick to ONE grocery store (for me, that's Vons), ONE pharmacy-type store (for me, that's my BFF, CVS), and one they-have-it-all store (for me, that's Target). That way, I'm able to plan just a few shopping trips each week, and I'm able to be very familiar with how each store works. (And, anyway, Walmart gives me hives, so even if I can get free toilet paper there, it's just not worth it, yo.)
2. There are a ridiculous amount of couponing blogs, but I've had the best luck while limiting myself to only two that I check every day (or every couple days): Krazy Coupon Lady and Money Saving Mom. These blogs also feature great sales, freebies, and tips, too! Totally worth the follow. And you don't have to be a mom, I promise.
3. As I've mentioned before, you can get some fantastic deals at Target by stacking coupons (using manufacturer coupons with Target coupons). But there have been at least 3 times when I've noticed after leaving the store that the cashier didn't correctly scan the coupons and I didn't get my full savings. I usually end up using coupons at Target for things I'm stocking up on (beauty/health/cleaning products), so it's frustrating to pay more for something I don't even need immediately! So, just try to pay extra attention when you're using a bunch of coupons. Or keep your transactions small, like I've started doing. It makes things less awkward and annoying (for you, the cashiers, and the people behind you in line giving you the stabby eyes).
4. I'm much more organized in how I spend my time creating shopping lists, clipping/printing coupons, and researching sales. I have a great weekly routine, and even know what day the grocery store switches over to a new week of discounts—that way I can spend only a couple hours each week getting my lists and coupons together for all my shopping trips. Not too shabby, when you think about it. Now that I have a better idea what to look for (and know what I'm doing), it goes by much quicker! (And since I've been stocking up on things when they're at good prices, I find that I need less and less each week.)
If any of you have any tips or tricks you'd like to share, please do! I'll be checking in every couple weeks or so to share anything that may be helpful/worthy/impressive. If you need me, I'll be researching couponing binders because I apparently want to give my husband another reason to judge me a little bit.